from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday, 8 March 2015

ten senses

Yesterday morning, early, searching for inspiration for the poetry group I lead every first Saturday, I opened at random Caitlin Matthews' The Celtic Spirit yearbook. The page I opened it on was 20 February: 'The Doors of Perception'.

Here's the opening paragraph: 'The doors of perception are the senses – not only the physical senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, but also the subtle senses of inner vision, resonance, instinct, discrimination, and empathy. Without the cooperation of these two sets of senses, we cannot perceive truly.' She suggests that these senses can be trained and further developed by clear attention.

If we live on the physical plane alone, our lives are the poorer for it. When we can also concentrate on the sense-behind-the-sense, as it were, there's a depth and a breadth and a richness we can bring to our lives as we make our way through the world. Perhaps there's also a subtlety we bring.

The brief passage on the senses did indirectly help me towards the material for the poetry day. But that's incidental. When I closed the book, a sheet of paper fell out with my handwriting on it – probably years old.

Matthews doesn't unpack the subtle senses, nor make explicit the symmetrical correlation between the physical senses and her list of subtle-level ones. I see that on the sheet of paper I have attempted that.
It was useful for me to revisit my list. In case it's of interest to anyone else, here it is:

INNER VISION: correlate of the physical sense of sight, inner vision is a way of seeing beyond the 'normal' constraints of space and time.

Inner vision incorporates these two great tools:

Intuition ~
the perception of underlying reality beyond appearances, and unmediated by rational mind.

Imagination ~ an awareness of past and future in terms of the potential for creation of thought-forms, as well as the perception of cause and consequence.

RESONANCE (hearing) of course brings with it the sense of 'chiming'. On the outer plane this is clearly connected with sound (as the etymology of the word suggests) as in 'hearing', but on an inner level the meaning may be a great deal more subtle, and suggests echoes and reflections. I interpret it as meaning 'finding sympathy with', recognition, a sense of likeness and interbeing (to use Thich Nhat Hanh's word), knowing what is a rightful place for us in the cosmos according to that with which we chime. This may be a precursor to empathy (see below).

INSTINCT (smell): we could describe this as an animal attunement to subtle movements of energy, and an ability to 'read' their meanings at a transrational level, and to take action as prompted by their meaning in relation to what's good and what might not be (not on a moral level so much as in terms of preservation and protection).

DISCRIMINATION (taste – think about it): an ability to accurately assess the quality of a thing, person, being or situation, and to make choices and decisions correspondingly.

EMPATHY (touch – we are 'touched' by someone or something, are we not?): this is a felt sense of what it means to be interconnected, and to act and live accordingly. It requires a development of imagination for its full potential to be fulfilled.

That's it for now.


  1. Bea:
    What fantastic unpacking and correlating of our ten senses - thank you, Roselle! Amazing to see too, which ones apply to oneself more than others:)! And interesting what development the term 'discrimination' has undergone and what it could or does mean if taken literally!
    With love B xx

  2. Thank you, Bea! And remember it's only provisional, my 'take' on it. If it also works for you, well, great!

    Will email you soon. Rxx


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